Iowa State soccer's hopes are high this week after coming away with a 1-0 win in their last outing against the University of California at Irvine. It was a tough match for the Cyclones, but the team is now looking forward to Thursday evening when they will face the University of Iowa in the Cy-Hawk Series.
The Cyclones put together a solid defensive display against the Anteaters. Defense and organization are very important in the eyes of the Cyclones' head coach Tony Minatta as he looks for his team to build up from the back and dictate the match from a defensive point of view.
“For us it’s very important that we're organized defensively and limiting other teams' chances at goal, which then frustrates them,” Minatta said. “With a lot of teams playing a more open game, if they’re frustrated then it’s going to lead to more opportunities for us.”
Junior goalkeeper Dayja Schwichtenberg has played a vital role in the defensive success of the Cyclones this season, contributing to one of three clean sheets in the first four games this year (including preseason games). Schwichtenberg credits the team's run of clean sheets on their constant communication and ability to stay organized in tough games.
“We’ve just been really focused on communication and organization, defensively especially,” Schwichtenberg said. “Coach does a really good job setting us up in the way we should be moving and organizing and from there it comes down to communication in the moment.”
Apart from coach Minatta’s strong defensive philosophy, he also relies a lot on his midfielders to win back the ball and get it through to the forwards to find the back of the net.
“We’re looking to break out on the counter. We’re not looking to connect 30 passes to score, we want to win the ball and go at them and score within three passes,” Minatta said.
This counter-attacking style of play could prove to be crucial against the Hawkeyes, as they have a lot of experience with 12 seniors on the roster and normally play a high press in a 4-3-3 formation. If the Cyclones can find their forwards on the counter attack, they could be in a position to get shots on goal and potentially punish the Hawkeyes for pressing high up the pitch.
One Cyclone to look out for against the Hawkeyes is redshirt freshman Kenady Adams. Adams got herself on the scoresheet in the Cyclones 4-0 exhibition win against the University of Northern Iowa and in the 1-0 victory against UC Irvine.
“To get my first goal in an in season game was pretty cool and just a really good feeling to finally get back on the field and do what I love,” Adams said.
After her first year was plagued by an injury that caused her to sit out all of last season, Adams is in great form so far and is looking to add more goals to her name against the Hawkeyes.
“Iowa is a great team and I’ll give them that,” said Adams. “But I think we’re going to break them down on the counter like we did against UC Irvine by just playing our game and finding our feet."
The Cyclones will have to play to the best of their abilities against an experienced Hawkeyes squad to get a result as the Cyclones push for back-to back-wins.
Kickoff for the Cy-Hawk game is set for 7 p.m. Thursday night in Iowa City, with TV and streaming coverage available on BTN+.